Brass dish showing the Fall of Man
Brass, hammered in relief and stamped
Museum no. M.337-1924
The scene on this dish shows the Fall of Man, a popular subject on brass dishes of the 16th and 17th centuries. Depictions of this scene usually represent the Tree of Knowledge as an apple or fig tree. The serpent is typically shown twined round the trunk of the tree - a motif probably derived from the classical myth of the three daughters of Hesperus who tended the dragon of Ladon and guarded the golden apples of Hera.
European paintings of domestic interiors show that these brass dishes were frequently used in conjunction with brass lavabos (basins) or ewers for washing hands after a meal. However by the 17th century these dishes had become more decorative than functional and were made primarily for display on middle class buffets.